California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has become notorious for saddling his state with some of the country’s most onerous coronavirus-related lockdown measures. However, he experienced a legal setback this week after the Supreme Court sided against his administration in a lawsuit.
According to Fox News, the nation’s highest court voted on Friday to grant injunctive relief to a group of churches that are challenging Newsom’s restrictions on indoor, in-person worship services.
The churches were seeking to have the state enjoined from enforcing those regulations while the case is being litigated. Through its decision, the Supreme Court reversed an earlier ruling issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that denied the request.
“The Ninth Circuit’s failure to grant relief was erroneous,” Fox News quoted the Supreme Court’s order as saying. “This outcome is clearly dictated by this Court’s decision in South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom.”
Liberal justices dissent
Friday’s ruling broke down along ideological lines, with all six right-leaning justices voting in favor and the three liberals voicing their opposition.
Fox News cited a sharply worded dissent authored by Justice Elena Kagan earlier this month in South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom that saw her call on fellow justices to defer to health experts.
“Justices of this court are not scientists,” the Obama appointee declared. “Nor do we know much about public health policy. Yet today the court displaces the judgments of experts about how to respond to a raging pandemic.
“The court orders California to weaken its restrictions on public gatherings by making a special exception for worship services,” she complained.
However, the need for California’s COVID control measures is by no means self-evident from the coronavirus death rates observed in different states.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that New Jersey and New York have the country’s highest death rates despite implementing strict mask mandates and hampering businesses with onerous restrictions.
In contrast, Florida has no state-wide mask mandate, has reopened its schools, and does not restrict church attendance, yet has far better COVID numbers.
What’s more, Florida’s death rate isn’t significantly higher than California’s despite the U.S. Census Bureau reporting that California has a much younger population.